What It’s About:
After the U.S. declares war on Japan in 1941, all persons of Japanese descent in the Western U.S. come under suspicion. Curfews are imposed, bank accounts frozen, and FBI agents search homes randomly.
Despite the fact that two generations of the Miyota family are American citizens, Fumio and his parents and sister Kimiko must pack meager belongings and are transported under military escort to the California desert to be held at Camp Manzanar, leaving their good friends and neighbors the Whitlocks to care for their farm and their dog, Flyer.
The family suffer unimaginable insults, witness prejudice and violent protests, are forced to live in squalor, and are provided only poor-quality, unfamiliar food which makes them ill. Later, they are transferred to Idaho’s Camp Minidoka, where Fumio learns what it means to endure and where he discovers a strange new world of possibility and belonging.
Lyrical, visual, and rendered with strict attention to historical accuracy, No Quiet Water, shines a poignant light on current issues of racism and radical perspectives.Black Rose Writing
Thank you NetGalley for gifting me a copy of No Quiet Water in exchange for an honest review! This book releases on Jan 5th!
What I liked
The history of Japanese interment camps have been popping up on my radar more often these days. We don’t learn much about them in school, so my knowledge on this topic is very basic. No Quiet Water provided a window for me to see into the lives of Japanese Americans who experienced incarceration. I am a big fan of historical fiction and always get excited to learn more about history through literature. This book encouraged me to learn more about the two internment camps in the book. I even shared what I was reading with my coworkers. I found several online exhibits that give more historical information. Links to the exhibits are at the end of the review.
The Miyota family was one of my favorite parts of the book. I loved seeing the relationships between the family members in both good times and bad. The depiction of their farm life on Bainbridge Island provides the reader with a good understanding of their family morals and values. Those qualities tremendously helped the Miyota family survive during their incarceration.
Another thing that blew my mind was the additional controversial issues that surround the regional area of the camps and the government. Such as the use of dispossessed Native American land and water rights owned by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. I also appreciated the author’s acknowledgement at the end detailing her inspiration for writing the book and the list of additional resources.
What I Didn’t Like
I was a bit confused by the author’s intended audience for the book. While the content is about a terrible time in American history, the way it was depicted seemed to lean more towards the lighter side. The chapters told from the point of Fumio’s dog, Flyer, also made the book seem like it is geared towards a younger middle grade audience.
Flyer’s chapters were my least favorite parts of the book. Just when I would get into the groove of reading Fumio’s chapters from an omniscient point of view, it was a jolt to read from the first person point of view of a dog. Flyer’s point of view was hard to accept because realistically a dog wouldn’t have all the thoughts and resolutions that Flyer did. I would have much rather have the alternate point of view be from Fumio’s best friend, Zachary Whitlock. The Miyota and Whitlock family were neighbors and close friends. Their perspective would have been very interesting.
The historical aspect of No Quiet Water was the shining light of this book. I learned new things about Japanese American history and was inspired to seek additional resources to learn more. If this book is in fact meant for middle grade, then this would be a wonderful book to introduce young readers to a part of history that often isn’t covered in school.
National Museum of American History – Righting a Wrong Japanese Americans and World War II
Densho – Introduction to WWII Incarceration
Digital Public Library of America – Prisoners at Home: Everyday Life in Japanese Internment Camps